Santa Claus – the Musical

It may have been chilly outside but the warmth of this production shone through all night. Yes, Santa Claus
had arrived in Birmingham and from the wonderful overture that allowed the audience to settle back in their seats this was a show not to be missed. A real family entertainment.

Producers Chris Moreno and Michael Rose Ltd bring many years of experience to the production values of this show and from the opening scene which was a burst of colour and the first musical number “The Main Event” this was a real Christmas cracker. The sets and costumes are a knock out and no corners have been cut making this a treat on the eyes.

The music and lyrics by Anthony England, Roger S Moss and Gary Wilmot fit the bill with comedy, romance and spectacle all catered for. The orchestra under Musical Director Anthony England were the icing on the cake. A proper orchestra too that created a wonderful atmosphere whenever the Ice Queen appeared and set the mood for the whole show.

The show is full of larger than life characters and not just in the principal roles. Kim Ismay was
outstanding as Santa’s right hand girl “Ms Drift” and was an excellent comedienne, dancer and singer.
Diminutive Dan Starkey likewise was perfectly cast as the now off the rails helper of Santa who has taken up with the wicked Ice Queen.
 
Joanne Farrell was well cast as the upper crust and charming Mrs Johnston whose daughter Anna (played by Georgina Ingleston & Kiera Battersby) finally has her
wish granted when Santa comes to call although she didn’t expect to be kidnapped by that horrible Ice Queen!

Russ Spencer as Joe, the Chief Elf, brings a touch of “Buttons” to the show and is a hit with both the kids
and the grown ups. He has a cheerful smile, can handle the comedy and vocals and looks good as Santa too. He really threw himself into “Pickin’ and Packin’” and the kids loved that.

Anita Dobson was a shimmering spectacle in a silver and blue gown and her appearances got more and more boo’s and hisses as the evening progressed. Of course, the Ice Queen is not all she seems and woe betide any human who gets too close…she’ll melt. Anita really gets to the heart of her character and her automated movements are incredible. The big question is, is the Ice Queen human?
 
Roy Barraclough was Santa Claus and what a wonderful beard. He was greeted with cheers from the audience and was undoubtedly the hit of the show. Roy suits the part and has a great rapport with all his helpers and was charming in “Young, Foolish and Fancy Free” accompanied by the lovely Ms Drift.

The children from The Betty Fox School were enchanting as the reindeer, crows, polar bears and Santa’s
helpers. The ensemble for the show sang and danced their feet off and had plenty of opportunity to shine
in the big production numbers “Number One Reindeer”, “Put a Little Heat in Your Feet” and the Finale –
“It’s Christmas Time”. A real team effort.

As a Christmas show this has all the right elements, colour, comedy, larger than life characters, romance,
some panto style scenes, happy music, even some fright and above all Santa Claus.

The show continues at the Alex until Sunday 30th December 2007 and has a running time of 2 hours and 35
minutes including the interval.

To book tickets or see news of forthcoming plays at the Alexandra Theatre, visit www.birmingham-alexandra.co.uk

Review by Clive Fuller